As a writer, you’re probably seeking more exposure for your work. What if I told you there was a website where you could publish your writing and tap into a potential audience of 30,000 people per month?
Enter Medium. A blogging and publishing platform developed by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, it’s a fantastic place to share new articles or republish old blog posts and reach more readers.
However, there are several steps you need to take in order to get your writing in front of Medium’s audience. When I first tried posting on Medium back in March 2016, my posts received very little views and interaction. Feeling discouraged, I stopped posting.
But in November a friend encouraged me to try posting again. One of her posts had gone viral on the platform and brought her several hundred new email subscribers. She advised that I try submitting to Medium publications. These publications are like magazines that exist inside the Medium platform and curate articles around specific topics.
I followed my friend’s advice, and the results were amazing. My Medium following grew from around 200 people to 1,800. Three of my posts ended up becoming trending articles in a publication and as of today have received over twenty-five thousand views. Another was featured on the Medium homepage.
Best of all, Medium drove traffic back to my website. Over the past three months, 550+ new subscribers have joined my email list with most of those subscribers coming directly from Medium.
Today, I’m going to share with you how to set up an account and all of the strategies I’ve used to turn Medium readers into subscribers.
Note: This is an in-depth guide at over 2,600 words. If you’d like to save it to read later, you can get the PDF version by entering your email in the box below.
How to Get Started on Medium
Step 1 – Set up a Medium Account
To get started on Medium, you’ll first need to create an account.
You can sign-up with your email address or with a Twitter, Facebook, or Google account. I recommend signing up with your Twitter account if you have one. Any of your Twitter followers who are also on Medium will automatically appear as Medium followers too.
Medium will also ask you to select your interests and will suggest people for you to follow. Make sure to pick the topics that you will be writing about. Medium will display articles related to those topics in your homepage feed, and you’ll be able to see the types of articles that are performing well.
Step 2 – Edit Your Profile
Now it’s time to edit your profile. (Click on the avatar at the top right-hand corner of the page to find your profile. Choose “profile” from the drop-down menu.)
Here’s a screenshot of my current profile:
Use a photo of yourself for the profile picture. This will give your account more authority and establish trust with your readers. I recommend uploading the same photo that you use on your other social media accounts so your followers will immediately recognize you if they follow you elsewhere on the web.
Finally, make sure to include a prominent link to your website or to your email list sign-up form.
Step 3 – Write Your First Story
To start writing your first post, you can click on “Write a Story” in the menu bar or choose “New Story” from the drop-down menu.
If you’re republishing a post from your blog, just copy and paste it and make the necessary formatting edits.
Alternatively, you have the option to import a post directly from your blog. However, I’ve had problems in the past where a post I imported displayed the date I first published it on the blog and not on Medium. This meant that it did not show up as a new story in readers’ feeds. I recommend just creating a new story and copying and pasting your blog post into the Medium editor.
The title, subtitle, and lead picture are extremely important for getting people to click on your article.
A constant stream of articles floods readers’ homepage feeds. The only way yours will stand out is if the title and picture catch readers’ eyes. For example, here’s how one of my posts would show up on a reader’s homepage:
The picture makes the story stand out, the title is intriguing, and the subtitle further explains what the title is about without giving too much away.
I’ve tried not including subtitles on posts, but I’ve found that the articles usually do not perform as well.
Read my post here for tips on how to write compelling headlines and more suggestions on how to format the body of your Medium post. You can find free stock photos to use as lead pictures at Pixabay and Unsplash.
Step 4 – Link Back to Articles on Your Website
Within the body of your post, I recommend including one to two links to related posts on your blog. This is an effective way to drive traffic back to your website.
Write out the full URL of the link on a separate line, and it will appear as an embedded preview. Here’s an example from one of my posts:
When readers click the link and land on your website, you want to make sure you have prominent opt-in boxes where they can subscribe to your email list. Since many Medium readers use their phones to access the Medium app, your website should also be mobile friendly.
If you access my website from your phone, you’ll see that my sidebar that displays my opt-in box is buried at the very bottom of the page. In order to have an opt-in box display to mobile readers on my website, I use the smart bar email opt-in from Sumo that appears at the top of the page. It’s a free plugin (note that this is only available for your website, not for your Medium account).
Step 5 – Ask Readers to Like Your Post and Sign Up for Your Email List
At the end of each of my Medium posts, I ask readers to recommend the post by clicking on the heart if they enjoyed it. When readers recommend a story, it is shared with their followers. (Note: Medium has recently replaced hearts with a feature called claps. It works the same as hearts, but readers can leave up to 50 claps to show how much they enjoyed your piece.)
I also have a link back to my site where I tell readers they can grab a free copy of my eBook. Often I also include a link to the landing page where they can sign-up to get an invitation to my Facebook Group (I’ve designed the landing page to display nicely on a mobile phone).
Readers are more likely to sign-up to your email list if you offer them some kind of free resource in return.
Finally, I embed an email subscription box in my Medium post that they can use if they want to sign-up for the email list without leaving Medium. See below:
The email subscription box is a free form available from Rabbut. (Update: Recently, I have started using Upscribe). This is a great way to start building your email list even before you have a website.
However, Rabbut only collects email addresses. You will not be able to use it to send subscribers email newsletters. You will need a service like MailChimp in order to do that. I manually copy the subscribers’ emails into my MailChimp account in order to send them my email newsletter.
Step 6 – Add Tags and Publish Your Post
You’re now almost ready to publish your post. When you click on “publish”, you’ll have an option to add tags to your post. Tags help Medium categorize your post and show it to the relevant audience.
Medium has recently created a new feature called “top writers”. For certain tags, they select fifty of the most popular writers and award those writers with a “top writer” distinction in their profile. For example, if you look at my profile, you’ll see that I’m a top writer in creativity, writing, productivity, and self-improvement. Medium recommends my account when people search for articles under those tags.
Several other tags that feature top writers are inspiration, life lessons, education, and fiction. Look for popular posts under the topics you want to write about and see which tags the author has chosen.
If you plan to submit your post to a publication, don’t hit publish. Instead, click on the three dots on the menu and choose “Add to publication” from the drop-down menu.
This will display the publications that have accepted you as a contributor, and you will be able to submit your story to them as a draft that they can review. Read on to find out how you can be accepted as a contributor to a publication.
Step 7 – Submit Your Story to a Publication
Once you publish a story on your profile, you might get a handful of recommends. But if you’re just starting out and have a small following, your posts will probably not perform very well. Don’t get discouraged. Instead, try submitting your articles to Medium publications. This is an excellent way to gain more exposure and build your audience.
As I explained before, publications are like magazines on the Medium platform. They curate articles around specific topics. When a Medium publication publishes your post, it will be sent out to that publication’s following. Often, publications have their own email newsletter too.
Many publications allow you to submit content you’ve already published on your blog. Once again, this is an excellent way to repurpose your old blog posts.
Here is a list of the top publications on Medium. Note that this list only takes into consideration the number of people following the publication. You will have to check that the publication is still active.
Once you find a publication you want to submit to, just look up their submission guidelines (not all publications accept submissions). If the huge list of publications seems overwhelming, you can also search through the top stories section on Medium, try to find articles similar to the ones you are writing, and see which publications they have been published in.
When your post goes live in a publication, you should still share it across social media and ask people to read and leave a recommend. The more recommends a post receives within the first few hours of publication, the higher chance it has of becoming a trending article.
Step 8 – Keep an Eye on Your Stats
Medium has a helpful stats page that lets you track how your stories are performing. Here’s a peek at my stats from the end of December to the beginning of January.
You can also see a breakdown of how many people viewed your post, read it all the way through, and left a recommend. The “read ratio” is the difference between your reads and views.
As you can see, some of my posts have performed much better than others. Is it the topic? The headline? The time of day when the post went live?
I keep track of all of these things and keep experimenting with each post. In fact, I’ll often keep an eye on my stats in the first few hours when an article goes live. If I notice that not many people are viewing the post or the post has a low read ratio, I might tweak the title or other elements of the piece.
The great thing about Medium is that you can keep editing your published stories. Publications will often allow you to continue making edits even once a story goes live.
The bottom line is not to give up if a post doesn’t do particularly well. Just keep experimenting and putting your articles out there.
Three Frequently Asked Questions About Medium
Before I wrap up this guide, I’d like to answer the three most common questions I get asked about Medium.
1. What kind of articles do well on Medium?
I have noticed that inspirational personal essays and self-improvement articles are the most popular posts on Medium, but there is still a wide variety of other posts on the platform too. Political posts, for example, have been very popular over the past several months. You can check out my top three posts here, here, and here.
As a general rule, Medium readers tend to like well-written posts that are helpful, entertaining, or compelling. Read my guide here on how to write strong blog posts.
There are also many writers publishing fiction on Medium though it does not seem to attract as wide an audience. I have not yet published any fiction on Medium but plan to experiment with posting fiction there in the future.
2. Is it okay to republish my blog posts to Medium?
Yes! This is one of the reasons why I love Medium. It’s a great way to repurpose old blog content. Many Medium publications will accept posts that you previously published on your blog.
Some people hesitate to republish their content on other websites thinking it might hurt the original post’s ranking in Google search. Google explains in this article,
If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is the most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you prefer. However, it is helpful that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article.
Ultimately, Google will not penalize your blog if you republish your content.
However, here are several steps you can take to protect your original post’s search ranking:
- Don’t republish an article as soon as it goes live on your blog. Wait several days for Google to index the link. You can search for the URL in Google to see if Google has indexed it yet or not.
- At the end of your Medium article, note that you originally published the post on your blog and link back to the original post.
- Give the Medium post a new title and edit some of the content of your post to make it distinct from your original post.
You can also avoid republishing your most popular content that is already receiving steady search traffic. In fact, I generally recommend not republishing any of the most recent articles from your site. If someone clicks over to your blog from Medium and doesn’t see any new articles on your homepage, they will be less likely to stay around and subscribe.
Overall, however, I’m not too worried about republishing my work to Medium. Those Medium posts are driving more traffic back to my website and resulting in many more subscribers than when my posts were just waiting for someone to stumble across them in Google.
3. Is it okay to use my Medium profile as my author website?
No, I don’t recommend relying on Medium as your author website. Medium’s features are limited, and, as with any social medium platform, you don’t own your followers. If Medium ever goes out of business or if they suspend your account, you will lose that entire following.
While you can use Medium to start growing your email list, you should also have a separate author website. Check out my guide on how to set up a self-hosted WordPress website here.
If you’ve been struggling to get readers to your blog, I highly recommend trying out Medium. It’s a wonderful way to share your work, find your target audience, and start growing your email list.
Depending on the types of articles you are writing, you might have to tweak the steps I’ve laid out above. However, I believe Medium is a powerful platform for sharing all different kinds of writing.
If you have any questions about anything in this article, let me know in the comments. I’ve also turned this blog post into a PDF guide that you can download and save to your computer. You can get it by entering your email in the box below.
Do you have a Medium account? Let me know in the comments and please share this post with a friend if you found it helpful.